Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Matthew 14:13-34, 15:29-39 - "Real Faith, Two Feasts, and a Walk"

  In the feeding of the 5,000 (Mt. 14:13-21) and the feeding of the 4,000 (Mt. 15:29-39) we have important similarities and dissimilarities. Similarities: Both point forward to the lavish Messianic Banquet (Isa. 25:6; Rev. 19:9), as well as, point back to the miraculous provisions for God's people in the desert (Ex. 16). Both stories reveal that Jesus is the powerful Creator. If energy = mass times the speed of light squared, light and life himself (energy!, John 1:1-3) can surely make anything he'd like. Likewise, both stories show Jesus' for the daily needs of His follower (cf. Mt. 6:33). Dissimilarities: The 12 baskets from the feeding of the 5,000 of mostly Jewish listeners seem to be a symbolic representation for the 12 tribes of Israel. The 7 baskets from the feeding of the 4,000 of mostly Gentile listeners seem to be symbolic for God's love for all people, Gentiles included (7 is the number that symbolizes completeness). Craig Blomberg notes, "Even the Greek words for 'basket' in the two passages differ (kophinos and spuris), corresponding, respectively, to characteristic Jewish and Hellenistic bags or sacks." Hence, Matthew, once again, is showing that the Messiah has come for both Jew and Gentile (culminating on the Cross of Calvary, 1 John 2:2).
   Between these 2 stories, we read about Jesus walking on the water and causing the waters to be still (Mt. 14:22-36). This appears to be an allusion back to Genesis 1, when the chaotic waters are subject to God's Word. Fittingly, Jesus identifies himself as "I AM" to His disciples (14:27). He is YHWH, incarnate (Ex. 3:14; Isa. 43:10; 51:2). As such, it was appropriate for the disciples to worship Him (Mt. 14:33). We know, however, that the full revelation of the Son of God was still in the future. Yes, the Son of God was God in the flesh. And yes, matter of all kinds (bread, fish, water) were subject to His bidding. But the glory of the Son is found in His willingness to lay down His life for rebellious sinners (John 6:38). We worship God not only as Creator, but as our Redeemer. Only through the lens of the Cross can we properly worship Christ and live for Him. Only through the Cross can we have the same kind of compassion for hungry crowds. Only through the Cross can we have faith in Christ no matter how deadly the storms of life become. Only through the Cross, did doubting Peter become faithful Peter (14:28-31; Acts 4:18-20). So, let us believe and not doubt today for the glory of our suffering Savior.

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